The silent terror unleashed by ‘street kids’


One lazy Saturday afternoon, a group of journalists from around Lilongwe teamed up at their usual meeting point, an African bar at the Game complex.

Here was yet another opportunity for them to unwind, share ideas, exchange friendly banter as the English premiership games graced the huge high definition television sets that the joint is known for.

However, as the day wore on and the fun was hitting its epitome, there was to be an unexpected dent on the catalogue of events on the day. One member within the gathering received a call from a colleague.


He informed the group that Mallick Mnela of Zodiak Broadcasting Station was at the car park and wanted to have a quick work-related exchange with him. He rushed to meet Mnela, with the intention of rejoining the fun in the quickest time possible.

Things were to turn sour moments later when the friend rushed back to where we were seated to inform us that Mnela was being roughed up by a group of children operating on the streets (street kids) and that we should rescue him from the wrath of the young mob.

“I saw some innocent looking kids involved in a brawl, I approached them to know what was going on. The eldest of the two told me the younger one had eaten his food, which he had bought at MK500.00. I produced a K1, 000 note and gave it to the younger one to stop the fight,” Mnela recounted.


“As I walked away I noted that the older one had descended on his friend with the intention of snatching the money I had given him and a fight ensued between them. Passers-by intervened and rescued the younger one.

“While walking to my car, a group of four kids descended on me, led by the aggressor who was involved in the fight earlier on. They hit me hard with a steel bar on the head before I could make out what was going on. I tussled with them until my friends came to the scene,” Mnela said.

With the help of the friends who had joined him, he was finally disentangled from the young street rulers and the older was nabbed and taken to the police unit within the game complex shopping mall. We were told that the boy is not new as he is a perennial offender on the streets.

Such is the danger that street kids pose in towns and cities across the country. And Mnela’s ordeal is not an isolated case.

Untamed danger

Many people, especially women, have fallen prey to attacks by street kids. Some have been at the receiving end of this terror for the simply responding ‘negatively’ to their requests for monetary assistance.

When you are deemed rude, they pounce on you without any flicker of mercy and in the evening hours, the gangs are even more deadly and hungrier than a lion that has not tasted a meal for days on end.

According to records from the Child Protection Unit at Lilongwe Police Station, in the last quarter of 2017, 135 children were arrested, 131 boys and four girls. Out of the 135, 35 children have been taken to court and 107 have been diverted at police level.

During a similar period last year, a total of 122 children were arrested, with 22 of them being taken to court and 88 children being diverted. Diversion is a programme which is also called a chance for change in which the children are offered a 12 week long reformatory training.

The variations in the two sets of figures indicate that there has been a sharp increase in the occurrence of such acts in 2016 as compared to the previous year. This is a growing worry.

Lilongwe Police Station publicist Kingsley Dandaula said complaints from people being attacked by these children are not new and that they have arrested some culprits.

“We once received continued complaints of a certain gang of these children which was causing problems in many areas around the central business district. We conducted patrols and we apprehended the group and they were remanded at Maula Prison,” Dandaula said.

In Lilongwe these kids have found fertile grounds at and around Lilongwe Bridge, along the Devil Street, Tsoka Flea Market and around the Shoprite area where people have been beaten while others have had their possessions like phones snatched.

“What we have noted is that many people choose not to report these cases once they have fallen prey. So, on our part as police, we take it as if everything is normal and this has made it very difficult for us bring this trend to a stop,” Dandaula said.

Is there any hope?

Chisomo Children’s Club (CCC)is one organisation which works with children who operate on the streets.

Clement Maluwa, CCC Programme Manager, said the best way to deal with the problem is to address the pull and push factors of street-connected-life, which revolves around poverty.

“This life is an effect of poverty as most of these children find themselves in the street to survive. As a country we need to […] strive to support their families with different livelihoods at all levels,” said Maluwa who believes that, with a good plan, the problem can be a done away with.

Public Relations Officer for Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Lucy Bandazi said the ministry is promoting interventions that prevent children from going to the streets while at the same time collaborating with the police in crime prevention.

“We are using the case management approach. It entails that the children are followed up to know their homes and reasons they are found on the streets. Once the cause has been established, the ministry will then intervene to ensure that the root problem is dealt with,” Bandazi said.

According to estimates from the Ministry, over 5, 000 children are living in the streets in the country but they say it is becoming increasingly hard to quantify their numbers as a section of them are constantly leaving and coming back considering the problems they face in their homes.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker